How Playing 1-on-1 Can Improve Your Game

I may be off base on this, so please correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think kids play much 1-on-1 anymore. I feel like if there aren't uniforms, referees, in an air-conditioned gym and 10 players—kids just don't play.

That's too bad, because playing 1-on-1 against someone who challenges you is an excellent way to develop your game and get in sick basketball shape.




But in order for it to be truly effective, it can't be played in the typical fashion of:

  • Check the ball at the top of the key
  • Dribble like an And-1 Mix Tape audition
  • Throw up a shot

Playing that way won't help you get better, nor will it get you in shape.

Put these general rules in place to take your game to the next level:

  • Play 2's and 3's
  • Play to seven from the same spot
  • Best of five series
  • Loser's ball after each made basket
  • five-second shot clock (once the ball is checked)
  • After the game-winning point is scored, the player must make a Free throw. If they miss; the point doesn't count.

For an added challenge try these 6 variations:

  • Play from the top of the key and you only get one dribble
  • Play from the wing, you can't shoot 3-pointers, and you can't score in the paint
  • Play from the elbow and you must score with your weak hand
  • Play from mid-court and you must shoot from 3-point line.
  • Play from the opposite free throw line and you only get five dribbles
  • Play from the block and you aren't allowed to dribble

I warn you, these games are not easy. They can stifle even elite-level players. But they will force you to work on all aspects of your game. They will force you to leave your comfort zone, both mentally and physically.

These games will help you get better, and that's your number one goal, right?

If you really want to take it to another level, play multiple games/series with multiple players and find out who is the "King of the Court."

More: Play the 1-on-1 Game Beat the Pro

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